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U.S. Iraq Commander Says 2008 Withdrawal Possible


http://gdb.rferl.org/437FED5B-0E2C-482F-AAA0-3775146C5849_w203.jpg --> http://gdb.rferl.org/437FED5B-0E2C-482F-AAA0-3775146C5849_mw800_mh600.jpg Chiarelli in Baghdad in May (RFE/RL) December 8, 2006 -- One of the top U.S. commanders in Iraq says most U.S. combat forces could be withdrawn from Iraq by early 2008, if Iraqis move toward reconciliation.

Speaking from Baghdad, Lieutenant General Peter Chiarelli told reporters he believed his forces were winning militarily. But he said progress on the political and reconstruction fronts had not been fast enough.

"This situation cannot be resolved by military forces alone," Chiarelli said. "And I know that is uncomfortable for a lot of people, both in and out of uniform, who were raised on the concepts of destroying a certain portion of the enemy's forces and declaring victory. This conflict will take all efforts, in governments, economic development, and transition, working together."

Chiarelli's comments are the first by a senior commander in Iraq since the release of the Iraq Study Group report earlier this week.

That bipartisan panel called for a more rapid military transition to Iraqi control and a withdrawal of most U.S. combat forces by the first quarter of 2008.

(AFP, Reuters)
On The Verge Of Civil War

The Imam Al-Mahdi Army on parade (epa)


HAS THE CONFLICT IN IRAQ BECOME A CIVIL WAR? Many observers have concluded that the tit-for-tat sectarian violence that emerged after the February 2006 bombing of a mosque in Samarra has become a full-blown civil war.... (more)

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THE COMPLETE PICTURE: Click on the image to view RFE/RL's complete coverage of events in Iraq and that country's ongoing transition.

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